NPQML 2018-07-18T14:52:38+00:00

National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership

Leading a team within an organisation

The National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership (NPQML) is a national qualification that provides recognition of your leadership development and professional achievement as a middle leader. Leadership East has successfully run this qualification since it began in 2012.

Leading a team within an organisation

The National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership (NPQML) is a national qualification that provides recognition of your leadership development and professional achievement as a middle leader. Leadership East has successfully run this qualification since it began in 2012, and is approved by the Department for Education to provide and assess this qualification.

Who is NPQML for?

NPQML is aimed at individuals with responsibility for leading a team and is suitable for:

  • Staff who have recently taken on a middle leadership role or a new responsibility
  • Staff who are more established and experienced in their middle leadership role
  • Subject/curriculum leaders
  • Key stage leaders
  • Heads of department
  • Pastoral leaders, for example, Head of Year or Head of House
  • Gifted and talented co-ordinators
  • Advanced skills teachers
  • Assessment co-ordinators
  • Career co-ordinators

What is the NPQML programme?

The NPQML is written for those who are, or are aspiring to become, a middle leader with responsibility for leading a team e.g. a key stage leader, a curriculum area leader, a pastoral services leader, a subject leader, a special educational needs co-ordinator (SENCO), or a head of department. This includes those who are, or are aspiring to be, a middle leader with cross-school responsibilities e.g. a Specialist Leader of Education (SLE). The qualification is part of the National College’s leadership curriculum, which offers flexible development opportunities to support leaders at every stage of their career. The curriculum has four levels, each within the national professional qualification framework of 6 content areas underpinned by seven leadership behaviours. Leadership East participants will also have access to additional Learning Areas to complement their programme and to support their individual development needs identified prior to the start of the programme. Levels one to three are currently available.

NPQML sits at level one of the leadership curriculum. It’s designed to support participants in becoming highly effective middle leaders with the skills, confidence and knowledge to drive successful team performance and improved classroom practice.

Included in the cost of the programme will be:

  • Online materials for the programme
  • Three face to face training days
  • Online discussions and support
  • Peer group meetings or support sessions from your mentor
  • Two 360 diagnostic development tools (one prior to the beginning of your programme and the second to be taken towards the end), with full report and and workbook to support planning for your development
  • Final assessment
  • Support available beyond face to face sessions to assist with assessment
  • Optional professional coaching
  • Access to a designated library of high quality CPD Apps from Pearson Publishing

There is the opportunity to buy in additional coaching support if required.

What is the content structure of the NPQML qualification?

The qualification deals explicitly with leadership and management of a team or department and is designed for those who are already or who are developing to be middle leaders. Content reflects the changing and significant demands on middle leaders and changes to national policy and its impact on those working at middle leadership level.  Access is provided to a wider set of leadership resources to challenge, develop and support participants. Online learning areas can be studied as “standalone” units without registering for the full programme for those who wish to undertake some development without achieving the full qualification. Please contact us at 01223 491690 or for more information.

How is the programme assessed?

To achieve the qualification there is a requirement of one extended school improvement task that relates to your leadership role and to your school’s improvement priorities. This extended school improvement task will need to draw on learning from all the learning areas studied.

The work will be undertaken over at least two terms to enable you to show evidence of the impact of your leadership.

How long does it take?

The qualification can take between 12 and 18 months to complete. The maximum study time for the whole qualification will be 150 hours, approximately 15 hours of this will be face to face learning with the remainder of the time spent exploring the online library, engaging in discussions, individual research, in school activities related to the programme and preparation and engagement with the assessment task.

Where will the programme be held?

Sessions currently take place at Swavesey Village College, Gibraltar Lane, Swavesey, Cambs, CB24 4RS

Do you want a locally delivered programme?

If a school or cluster of schools, have a group of staff who wish to undertake the qualification then this can be organised with you and delivered locally by Leadership East. Programmes that are tailored to your own priorities can be particularly cost effective and reduce travelling time and supply costs. Leadership East can provide varying levels of support for your cluster programme. Please contact us for prices and more information on localised NPQML programmes.

If you register as an individual NPQML is available at a cost of £955. If you are part of a local cluster group the price may be even lower.

In some circumstances, participants can be granted exemptions from part of the online learning – although it is still a requirement that you participate in the online discussions with your peers. This is in agreement with the NCTL, for participants who may have completed a NCTL programme previously, or have completed relevant postgraduate studies.

Please see the below information regarding exemptions:

Leadership East  has agreed the following exemption arrangements for school leaders who have successfully undertaken NCTL programmes detailed below:

1. Middle leadership development programme (MLDP) and Leading from the Middle (LftM):

School leaders who have successfully completed MLDP or LftM and wish to undertake the National Professional Qualification for Middle Leadership can request exemption from one topic.

HEI post graduate qualifications

Leadership East has agreed the following exemption arrangements for school leaders who have successfully undertaken post graduate studies in educational leadership (Certificates, Diploma and higher degrees) as follows:

1. Post graduate certificate or diploma in educational leadership:

School leaders who have successfully completed a post graduate certificate or diploma in educational leadership can request exemption from one topic area from any of the following qualifications: NPQML, NPQSL, NPQH or NPQEL.

2. Higher degree in educational leadership:

School leaders who have successfully completed a higher degree in educational leadership can request exemption from up to two topic areas from the National Qualification for Middle Leadership and the National Qualification for Senior Leadership.

Post graduate exemption terms:

  • Both the ‘educational’ and ‘leadership’ elements of the requirement must be met. For example, studies focused solely on classroom practice or pedagogy with no leadership element would not be eligible.
  • When submitting requests for exemption, school leaders should supply details of the qualification content (course outline, unit titles) clearly indicating the leadership elements. The leadership focus should account for at least 25% of the course content. Evidence of successful completion must be provided by school leaders.
  • School leaders will also need to demonstrate, at final assessment; how the programmes / post graduate studies have improved their leadership and impacted on their school (further details will be provided in the information about final assessment)
  • Participants can only use their previous experience from a specific qualification for one exemption. For example, if exemption from one content area for NPQML has been granted because a school leader has a post graduate certificate, when the school leader studies for NPQH he or she cannot use the same post graduate certificate to claim exemption from any area of NPQH.


Please inform Leadership East of any exemptions you feel you may be eligible for.  You will be asked to complete the Exemptions form and return it to Leadership East.  Exemptions from any content will not have a bearing on the price of the programme.

Please note that for a previous qualification to be considered for an exemption, it must have been completed within the last THREE years.

Venue: Swavesey Village College, Gibraltar Lane, Swavesey Village College, CB24 4RS

The programme starts online in Autumn 2018, with the face-to-face days held as below. Please note that all face to face days are compulsory and are full days running approximately 9.30am-4pm:

Event Date
Face to Face day 1 Monday 8th October 2018
Face to Face day 2 Tuesday 5th March 2019
Face to face day 3 Wednesday 3rd July 2019

Please note that this cohort has already started and the dates are for reference only.
Venue: Swavesey Village College, Gibraltar Lane, Swavesey Village College, CB24 4RS

The programme starts online, with the face-to-face days held as below:

Event Date
Face to Face day 1 Friday 16th March 2018
Face to Face day 2 Monday 25th June 2018
Face to face day 3 Tuesday 9th October 2018

Upcoming groups

Paragon Teaching School Alliance:

Venue: Phoenix School Orton Malborne, Peterborough, PE2 5QA

Wednesday 28th November 2018
Wednesday 27th February 2019
Tuesday 30th April 2019

Discovery Teaching School Alliance:

Venue: Hinchingbrooke School

Tuesday 16th October 2018
Thursday 7th March 2019
Thursday 4th July 2019

Current groups


Date Time Venue
Wednesday, 9th May OR
Tuesday, 26th June 2018
4.00pm – 5.00pm TBC
Tuesday 18th September 2018 TBC TBC
Thursday 10th January 2019 TBC TBC
Wednesday 3rd April 2019 TBC TBC
It is very important that you provide your Teacher reference Number (TRN) correctly in your application. Most often, the TRN can be found on your school’s central record (which is an Ofsted safeguarding requirement), on your QTS certificate, on your application form for a teaching post and on your Teachers’ Pension annual statement. It is also part of the online login to access the Teachers’ Pension Service online so it’s worth checking to see if you asked your computer to remember it. Some employers include the TRN on a salary slip.

The TRN was previously known as a DfEE number, and similar titles. The TRN is normally in the form: 01 / 23456. If you have a number that is in a different form it is not your TRN and will be rejected by NCTL. Currently TRNs are handled by Capita. If you have not been successful following the above suggestions you can also get your Teacher Reference Number by contacting Capita, who co-ordinate teachers’ pension arrangements:

Telephone: 01325 745746
Fax: 01325 745789

This may take some time though – so we advise you to contact them without delay if you need their help.

Alternatively you can contact the National College QTS Team via the following information:

Telephone: 0207 593 5394

Please note: you will need to provide the QTS team with your full name, date of birth and national insurance number to be able to request your TRN.

Are you eligible for a fully-funded place?

Funds of £10 million have been set aside by government in order to support teachers and leaders in challenging areas to access the National Professional Qualifications (NPQs) for Middle Leaders (NPQML), Senior Leaders (NPQSL), Headteachers (NPQH) and Executive Leaders (NPQEL).

We are able to offer fully-funded places on the NPQs to those applicants working in a school in an Opportunity Area (OA) or a Category 5 or 6 area. Anyone in these areas who does not already hold the NPQ for which they are applying and has not have previously dropped out before completing it may apply.

Please note that places are limited, so ensure that your application is with us as soon as possible to avoid missing out.

A full list of the eligible areas can be found below:

• Arun
• Ashfield
• Ashford
• Babergh
• Basingstoke and Deane
• Bracknell Forest
• Braintree
• Broxtowe
• Burnley
• Cannock Chase
• Carlisle
• Coventry
• Dudley
• East Lindsey
• Eden
• Gravesham
• Halton
• Havant
• Kirklees
• Leicester
• Lewes
• Lincoln
• Luton
• Mansfield
• Medway
• Mid Suffolk
• Milton Keynes
• Newark and Sherwood
• North Lincolnshire
• North Warwickshire
• Nuneaton and Bedworth
• Pendle
• Reading
• Rochdale
• Salford
• Sefton
• Sheffield
• South Staffordshire
• St Edmundsbury
• St. Helens
• Stafford
• Staffordshire Moorlands
• Stevenage
• Swindon
• Tameside
• Telford and Wrekin
• Tendring
• Thanet
• Torridge
• Warrington
• Wirral
• Wychavon
• Wyre Forest

• Amber Valley
• Barnsley
• Blackpool
• Bolsover
• Bradford
• Breckland
• Chesterfield
• Corby
• Crawley
• Daventry
• Derby
• Doncaster
• East Cambridgeshire
• East Northamptonshire
• East Riding of Yorkshire
• East Staffordshire
• Erewash
• Fenland
• Forest Heath
• Gosport
• Great Yarmouth
• Hastings
• High Peak
• Huntingdonshire
• Ipswich
• Isle of Wight
• Kettering
• King’s Lynn and West Norfolk
• Kingston upon Hull, City of
• Knowsley
• Liverpool
• Middlesbrough
• North East Derbyshire
• North East Lincolnshire
• Northampton
• Northumberland
• Norwich
• Nottingham
• Oldham
• Peterborough
• Portsmouth
• Sandwell
• Scarborough
• South Derbyshire
• South Holland
• Stoke-on-Trent
• Tamworth
• Walsall
• Waveney
• Wellingborough
• West Somerset
• Weymouth and Portland
• Wolverhampton
• Worthing

  • West Somerset
  • Norwich
  • Blackpool
  • North Yorkshire coast
  • Derby
  • Oldham
  • Bradford
  • Doncaster
  • Fenland and East Cambridgeshire
  • Hastings
  • Ipswich
  • Stoke-on-Trent


You can register either as an individual for a centrally organised group, or if you have been provided with a cluster code, as part of a cluster or regional group of schools. Click the relevant button below to begin your registration.

If you are considering a locally delivered programme for your school or cluster of schools please email us at or call 01223 491690.

Individual Applications
Cluster Applications